Stories about lives

When I say Gouda you say Peppers, Gouda Peppers!

When I started making this spicy and aromatic appetiser with Gouda cheese, my mind naturally wandered off to the Netherlands. Gouda cheese is named after a city in the Netherlands where one of my oldest friends’ also lives. This friend and I have four things in common: adorable maternal grandparents, loads of grey hair, identical feet and the ability to eat insanely spicy food. I can’t reminisce enough when I think of all the times we’ve played in our grandmothers’ gardens, fought over home grown tangerines, turnips and carrots, made houses with wet sand, watched daffy duck cartoons, endlessly sang kya hua tera waada ...

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10 Things that I learnt from my husband, Sarmad Tariq

Sarmad Tariq, the motivational speaker, life coach and the ‘chair man’ has touched many lives through his experiences of hardship and writings. As my life partner for the last 13 years, I have also learnt a lot from him. Here is a list of my personal favourite top 10 things that I want to share with all his admirers: 1. Do not form an opinion about people on the basis of how they look, what they wear or their general demeanour. Every human being has some positive qualities that can only be discovered if we allow ourselves to do away with the ...

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20 years ago Ayrton Senna died as a hero, today he lives as a legend!

The scene was the San Marino Grand Prix at Imola, the script writer had ordained something no one was predicting. It all went horribly wrong when, at the start of the weekend, Rubens Barrichello crashed horribly in his Jordan 194 and was lucky to survive. The following Saturday was even worse when the Austrian driver, Roland Ratzenberger, went airborne and hit the barriers at frighteningly high speed resulting in Formula One’s first fatality for 12 years. I can still remember the expression on Ayrton Senna’s face whilst watching the events of the crash on the screen. Maybe he knew what was ...

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Don’t equate the United Baloch Army with the Taliban!

Wednesday April 9, 2014. 8 am. Islamabad I-11’s fruit market. A blast rips through the usually quiet federal capital morning. Over two dozen lives lost. Everyday news in everyday Pakistan. The only difference? The attack was not claimed by the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) or one of its various splinter groups. It was claimed by the United Baloch Army (UBA). This has been the second attack of its kind carried out by the UBA in the last few days. The first one took place at a train station in Sibi, Balochistan, killing 17 people. While in the last few hours the government has rejected the ...

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How a group of dedicated friends changed the lives of 150 children

For a country with a population of 180 million, out of which 36 .7 per cent are under the age of 15, the education system of Pakistan is simply disgraceful. Although there is always a hue-and-cry about the importance of education by our leaders, little is actually done to implement the extensive measures that the government claims to pursue. As a result of the state’s negligence and the sheer inadequacy of infrastructure, millions of young children are unable to fight their way out of the poverty-stricken struggle that seems to be their destiny. Pakistan is currently rated number two on the ...

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My grandmother’s tales: Stories that painted our lives

It’s been a few months since my beloved Naani (maternal grandmother) departed from this world, leaving us in utter shock and grief. She slipped away so quietly, without a warning, without inconveniencing anyone, and without saying goodbye, that it has left a piercing void in our hearts. After attending to mourning relatives, taking condolence calls and repeatedly telling the story of her last moments, we are left with a hollow silence that permeates not only her home, but each one of our lives. Without her, we are like a flock without a shepherd. Ever since she left us, I have heard ...

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Save our doctors at Civil Hospital Karachi!

One morning I decided to make a surprise visit to the Civil Hospital Karachi. The motive of my visit was to get an idea of the current security arrangements, so that violence in hospital could be prevented and controlled. Unfortunately, this visit uncovered a set of serious security breaches. •   There was an absence of security personnel on almost all the entrances and exits of the hospital. •   The main gate leading to the entrance of the Emergency Department was being handled by a few unarmed security guards who were merely opening and closing gates. •   The Police chowki (office) was empty and it appeared ...

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Pakistanis – as charitable as we are corrupt!

What could I write about? I thought to myself, while taking a long drive down the smog filled roads of Sea View in Karachi, my birthplace and a city I keep returning to. Corruption, violence, poverty, slave labour, child abuse, acid victims, rape, gender discrimination. The possibilities are endless because we are an under-developed country with a plethora of topics ranging from the manic to the incredibly insane making lives quite exciting for photographers, journalists, documentary-makers and writers. Photo: Reuters Then, something remarkable happened. I was passing by one of the food stalls erected away from the beach area. A boy, barely eight-years-old, holding ...

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When the poor pay with their lives for fizzy drinks

Travel through rural Pakistan and two things will strike you. One is heart rending poverty and the other is hospitality. Visitors are greeted with warmth and selfless generosity. The poorest of the poor will immediately call for ‘paani’ for their visitors. Paani means water in Urdu, but in the local lexicon it has come to mean a bottled fizzy drink. And ‘paani’ brooks no refusal. Visitors can demur all they want but the host is not deterred.  “It’s only paani”, he says. “It can do no harm”. But it can and it does. The impression amongst the general public that it ...

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A broken pen, a sweeper’s respect and my shame

It was a normal day at college. While two of my friends were playing table tennis, another friend and I were trying to disrupt their game by constantly throwing objects their way. This was routine for us – nothing unusual. On this particular day, we started by throwing Nestle water bottle caps at them, then pen caps and when we ran out of the smaller pieces, we threw pens their way. Since we had a poor aim, these items were scattered all over the lobby but we didn’t pay much attention to the mess we had made and continued with ...

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